From the Society

Transforming glycemic control at Norwalk Hospital

SHM eQUIPS program yields new protocols, guidelines

How did the program help you and the team design your initiatives?

Data are powerful and convincing. We post and report our eQUIPS Glucometrics to our clinical staff monthly by unit, and through this process, we obtain the necessary “buy-ins” as well as participation to design clinical protocols and order sets. For example, we noted that many patients would be placed on “sliding scale”/coverage insulin alone at the time of hospital admission. This often would not be adjusted during the hospital stay. Our data showed that this practice was associated with more glucose fluctuations and hypoglycemia. When we reviewed this with our hospitalists, we achieved consensus and developed basal/bolus correction insulin protocols, which are embedded in the admission care sets. Following use of these order sets, we noted less hypoglycemia (decreased from 5.9% and remains less than 3.6%) and lower glucose variability. With the help of the eQUIPS metrics and benchmarking, we now have more than 20 protocols and safety rules built into our EHR system.

What were the key benefits that the GC eQUIPS Program provided that you were unable to find elsewhere?

The unique features we found most useful are the national benchmarking and “real-world” data presentation. National benchmarking allows us to compare ourselves with other hospitals (we can sort for like hospitals or all hospitals) and to periodically evaluate our processes and reexamine our goals. As part of this program, we can communicate with leaders of other high-performing hospitals and share strategies and challenges as well as discuss successes and failures. The quarterly benchmark webinar is another opportunity to be part of this professional community and we often pick up helpful information.

We particularly like the hyperglycemia/hypoglycemia scatter plots, which demonstrate the practical and important impact of glycemic control. Often there is a see-saw effect in which, if one parameter goes up, the other goes down; finding the sweet spot between hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia is key and clinically important.

Do you have any other comments to share related to your institution’s participation in the program?

We are fortunate to have many successes driven by our participation with the GC eQUIPS Program:

  • Coordination of capillary blood glucose (CBG) testing, insulin administration and meal delivery: Use of rapid-acting insulin premeal is standard of care and requires that CBG testing, insulin, and meal delivery be precisely coordinated for optimal insulin action. We developed a process in which the catering associate calls the nurse using a voice-activated pager when the meal tray leaves the kitchen. Then, the nurse checks the CBG and gives insulin when the tray arrives. The tray contains a card to empower the patient to wait for the nurse to administer insulin prior to eating. This also provides an opportunity for nutritional education and carbohydrate awareness. Implementation of this process increased the percentage of patients who had a CBG and insulin administration within 15 minutes before a meal from less than 10% to more than 60%.
  • Patient education regarding insulin use: In many cases, hospital patients may be started on insulin and their oral agents may be discontinued. This can be confusing and frightening to patients who often do not know if they will need to be on insulin long term. Our GCT created a script for the staff nurse to inform and reassure patients that this is standard practice and does not mean that they will need to remain on insulin after hospital discharge. The clinical team will communicate with the patient and together they will review treatment options. We have received many positive reviews from patients and staff for improving communication around this aspect of insulin therapy.
  • Clinician and leader education: When our data revealed an uptick in hypoglycemia in our critical care units, we engaged the physicians, nurses, and staff and reviewed patient charts to identify potential process changes. To keep hypoglycemia in the spotlight, our director of critical care added hypoglycemia to the ICU checklist, which is discussed on all team clinical rounds. We are also developing an electronic metric (24-hour glucose maximum and minimum values) that can be quickly reviewed by the clinical team daily.
  • Hypoglycemia and hyperkalemia: Analysis of our hypoglycemia data revealed a higher-than-expected rate in the ED in patients who did not have a diabetes diagnosis. Further review showed that this was associated with insulin treatment of hyperkalemia. Subsequently, we engaged our resident trainees and other team members in a study to characterize this hypoglycemia-hyperkalemia, and we have recently submitted a manuscript for publication detailing our findings and recommendations for glucose monitoring in these patients.
  • Guideline for medical consultation on nonmedical services: Based on review of glucometrics on the nonmedical units and discussions with our hospitalist teams, we designed a guideline that includes recommendations for Medical Consultation in Nonmedical Admissions. Comanagement by a medical consultant will be requested earlier, and we will monitor if this influences glucometrics, patient and hospitalist satisfaction, etc.
  • Medical student and house staff education: Two of our GCT hospitalists organize a monthly patient safety conference. After the students and trainees are asked to propose actionable solutions, the hospitalists discuss proposals generated at our GCT meetings. The students and trainees have the opportunity to participate in quality improvement, and we get great ideas from them as well.

Perhaps our biggest success is our Glycemic Care Team itself. We now receive questions and items to review from all departments and are seen as the hospital’s expert team on diabetes and hyperglycemia. It is truly a pleasure to lead this group of extremely high functioning and dedicated professionals. It is said that “team work makes the dream work.” Moving forward, I hope to expand our Glycemic Care Team to all the hospitals in our network.

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